Christians cycle and re-cycle to the Copenhagen summit

By agency reporter
December 12, 2009

Some 30 supporters of the international development agency Christian Aid, who cycled all the way from Britain, have arrived in the Danish capital Copenhagen today to join protests about climate change.

They included Peter and Rowena Mason, from Bridgewater in Somerset, who did the 140 mile ride on a tandem. "We're elated, we got here," said Peter, a vet in his 50s.

He added: "It has been a terrific route for us, gently undulating. We have had huge fun on the tandem - the conditions have been perfect for hunting down the solo bikes in the group."

Rowena Mason, aged 59, said: "I haven't done that sort of distance over that amount of time for many years. We have both been involved in voluntary work which brings us into contact with the effects of climate change - famines, droughts and so on. Things are getting worse and it is partly because of our Western way of life. We need to do something about it."

Peter continued: "The ride turned out to be a perfect excuse to tell people about how climate change is biting hardest in developing countries. Many people still don't realise that climate change affects people in poorer countries worst."

Methodist minister Andy Smith, aged 33, from Saltley, Birmingham, said he undertook the 140 mile journey as "an act of confession".

He explained: "I did the ride to acknowledge that for too long the Church has been complicit in climate change, We can no longer be silent. We are accountable to God."

On the ride itself, Mr Smith said: "We averaged about 60 miles a day, and got lost a few times but it was fantastic journey. There was a northerly headwind which made it rather cold, but at least it was dry. We received really strong messages of support from people that we met on the way."

Another cyclist, 61-year-old charity worker charity worker Rosalind Jarvis from Baldernock, near Glasgow, said: "I ache a bit when I stand up or sit down but apart from that, I'm fine. I'm here on behalf of my children and great [grand] children who will inherit the world."

She explained: "I want to see a deal emerging from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen that is fair to the developing world and small island states. People there are already feeling the impact of climate change but they are not emitting anything like the greenhouse gases that rich countries emit."

Christian Aid staff member Mark Vyner, aged 48, from Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire, said: "We are looking for more than just platitudes from the politicians. They must be prepared to take decisions that might be unpopular and commit to a deal that is fair to poorer countries."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who will tomorrow preach at an ecumenical service attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in Copenhagen Cathedral, gave Christian Aid climate protesters his blessing.

"I am glad they are here. It's a hugely important witness. I wish them every blessing and every success," he said as he watched protesters assemble for the Global Day of Climate Action in Copenhagen.

Dr Williams added: "I hope that some of the things that communities of faith across the world, especially Christian churches, are doing will really help to give some leverage to the situation. I hope that firm commitments will emerge from the UN summit and that over the next 12 months we see some really binding protocols agreed."

The archbishop added: "The world isn't ours. It is something we are part of. We don't own it. God has given us responsibilities to care for and nurture the actual material world and one another. It is also about justice. Climate change weighs most heavily on the least powerful. There is a clear imperative to do something about it."

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